THE HOLOCAUST MAIDEN * A True Story * From total darkness to blinding light

A True Story
From total darkness to blinding light
eastwind journals
By Bernie V. Lopez,
Blogger / retired Inquirer columnist / healing ministry
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RUTH (not her real name), at a tender age, and her parents, together with thousands of other Jews, were rounded up into the Warsaw Ghetto, living like pigs in a giant sty with very little food. The SS planned them to be ransomed to the world Jewry to raise $2 million dollars to finance the invasion of Russia. A Christian family smuggled Ruth out of the Ghetto by simply putting her in a coffin, which was thrown into a cart full of corpses headed for the cemetery. There, she was smuggled out in the dead of night. 
Ruth was an attractive blonde who eventually became a Broadway actress in New York. But the memory of Warsaw would linger and haunt her, until one day, it took its toll. She withdrew totally from the world, not speaking, staring at the wall. Silent tears would suddenly flow. No one could draw her out of her darkness.
She was brought to the Bet Tzedek (Hall of Justice in Hebrew) Legal Services in Fairfax, Los Angeles, USA, which offered free legal services for low-income residents. Bet Tzedek was a prestigious international Robin Hood of a law firm known as far as Tel Aviv and Washington DC. The firm wanted the German government to pay Ruth war reparations as a holocaust survivor. For days, the lawyers tried hard to pry her open, but she was like an ice-berg, cold, unmoved, opaque, unreachable. When the lawyers gave up, they passed her on to Lisa, the only Filipino woman in the group, hoping she could thaw the ice-berg. 
Lisa knew instinctively how to break-in Ruth. She sat beside her and held her hand without saying a word. She caressed her hair and touched her face. Ruth stared at her, and for the first time, gave a faint smile. Lisa knew the magic of touch. Touch was better than a thousand words. Later on, after Lisa left, Ruth spoke her very first four words in three-odd years, asking someone about Lisa, “What is her name?”
Lisa came back prepared. She had a dreidel (a Jewish toy), and like little children, Lisa, in her late twenties, and Ruth, in her late thirties, played together. Lisa said she lived in Germany before. Ruth said, “Spreken sie Deutch?” (Do you speak German?) Lisa answered, “Nein” (no). Gradually, the ice-berg melted under the intense heat of a dialogue of children. Ruth said she was originally from Poland. Slowly, from a trickle of words, there was a flood of unspoken darkness deep inside her soul flowing out. Sharing one’s unspoken pains is a form of healing. 
Ruth recalled her harrowing experience. The lawyers got the information they needed to file a case against the German government. Finally, she won her case. She was awarded about US$3,000 a month for the rest of her life, a small fortune which insured her future. Today, she lives in the Los Angeles area.
The Jewish community lauded the lawyers of Bet Tzedek. The story of how Lisa melted an iceberg, which no one else could do, was front page news in a local Jewish paper. Asked how she did it, Lisa said, “It’s simple. It’s no secret. The art of listening and touching can melt icebergs, fill dark rooms with sunshine. A smile can change despair into hope instantly.” 
Here are some pointers from Lisa. Eye contact is critical. The eyes are the windows of the soul.  When you listen, listen hard. Do not distract the speaker with your urge to speak. Just keep quiet. Have a sixth sense when to butt in. Show empathy and genuine interest. Finally, touch is sometimes the greatest ice-breaker, but not always. Some do not want to be touched. Resort to the touchless smile that touches, before you attempt to touch. For Ruth, it worked like magic.
eastwind verses
p325 our love can solve the pandemic

p159 a smile is a seed

p 143 no man is an island

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